Veteran jockey Roman Chapa is facing charges after a finish line photograph revealed what officials say is an electronic device in his hand, designed to deliver a shock to his horse.
The jockey was riding Quiet Acceleration in the Richard King Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on January 17 when the photo was taken, according to the Daily Mail. The horse was running in fifth place in the $50,000 race, which it entered with 10-to-one odds, when it accelerated to the front of the pack, winning by a half a length. Track photographer Jack Coady documented the win, capturing Chapa just before the finish.
Coady’s photo was posted on the track’s website amid a write-up covering the day’s races. According to a probable cause complaint, Chapa contacted Coady in an effort to have it removed the day after the race, claiming that it was a “bad picture.” The image depicts something in the jockey’s left hand, an object that officials allege is a “buzzer,” used to shock his mount.
— sdhorserace.com (@sdhorserace) January 27, 2015
Texas Department of Public Safety investigator Jeff Green confronted Chapa, according to the Paulick Report, and the jockey asserted that he hadn’t seen the picture prior to being contacted by police. The complaint, however, reveals that a copy of the image was attached to the text message Chapa sent to Coady.
“The Defendant also gave me verbal consent to look at his cellphone,” Green noted, “and I observed a copy of the photograph in his recently deleted files. The Defendant did not have an answer as to why it was on his phone when asked.”
— Sue Finley (@suefinley) January 28, 2015
Chapa also claimed the photo was altered and that someone was trying to frame him, the complaint alleges. Texas Racing Commission stewards suspended the jockey on January 19, and a warrant was issued for his arrest on Tuesday, under a felony charge of unlawful influence on racing.
The jockey has a checkered history in horse racing and has twice before been penalized for using a buzzer on his mounts. In 1994, while still an apprentice, Chapa was suspended from racing for nine months after using a nail to spur his horse in a qualifying race. In 2007, the jockey was suspended by New Mexico racing officials for five years after he was found to be using an electrical device.
More recently, a 2014 investigation by PETA caught assistant trainer Scott Blasi speaking about the jockey’s use of a buzzer. That same year, PETA accused thoroughbred trainer Steve Asmussen of abusing his horses, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
As of Thursday morning, Roman Chapa remained at large, and the jockey’s whereabouts were unknown.
[Image: Jack Coady via the Daily Mail]